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The FBI and the state of Montana are responding to the state’s growing human-trafficking problem in very different ways.

Earlier this year, the Montana Legislature appropriated funding to hire two new full-time state agents who will be dedicated to fighting human trafficking throughout the state.

However, the FBI is cutting in half the amount of time its human trafficking agent in Montana can spend working to prevent the crime. This change comes amid growing scrutiny of the FBI and other federal entities over the way they handle issues involving missing and murdered indigenous people, which were detailed in a special publication produced by the University of Montana School of Journalism and sponsored by Lee Enterprises earlier this year.

When asked to explain the reason for this unfortunate change, an FBI spokesman told a Billings Gazette reporter only that it is common for agents to work on different focus areas over the course of their career.

Montanans are owed an explanation at the very least, and the FBI should be doing more, not less, to fight human trafficking in the state. 

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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: There’s no room for hate in our state or our town.

According to the Montana Human Rights Network, residents within a 10-block radius of the State Capitol woke up last week to find anti-Semitic literature on the windshields of their vehicles.

Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in our country, or state, and even our community. Just last year, a white nationalist group was attempting to recruit new members with flyers placed around Carroll College and Helena College.

Our collective voice is our strength in the fight against this kind of hate speech. And our community must make it clear that Helenans support their Jewish friends and neighbors.

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Carroll College has been named U.S. News & World Report's best regional college in the West for nine years in a row, which is a testament to the quality of the degree programs available right here in Helena.

U.S. News & World Report defines regional colleges as institutions that have a "focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than half their degrees in liberal arts disciplines." While Carroll College was not competing with universities and national liberal arts colleges, it beat 103 other similarly sized institutions for the top spot on this year's list.

Every year, students from across the country come to Helena to take advantage of the excellent education Carroll College provides. We are fortunate to have such a great institution right in our backyard.

This is the opinion of the Independent Record editorial board. 

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